Local workers frustrated by layoffs from Hostess Brands shutdown

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 11:00pm

Dozens of local workers are looking for new jobs right before the holidays.

Hostess Brands announced it had shut down its operations Friday, and had begun the process of laying off its entire workforce of more than 18,500 people nationwide. The company says 423 of those workers are based in Louisiana. The company did not provide a count for its Baton Rouge operations, but one worker estimated between 35-50.

The shelves at the Holsum Bakery outlet on Ardenwood Drive were nearly empty, as is the case most Fridays. But they will not be restocked like usual.

Hostess will attempt to liquidate its brands, so Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and other products may find a new life.

Hostess has been in bankruptcy since January, its second attempt at reorganization. It first entered bankruptcy in 2004 and came out in 2009. Hostess posted revenues of $2.5B last year.

But labor costs brought the company down. Its main bakers' union went on strike in September, and the company said Friday it could not survive the strike any longer.

In a statement, Hostess' CEO Gregory Rayburn said in part, "there's no way to soften the fact that this will hurt every Hostess employee. All Hostess Brand employees will eventually lose their jobs - some sooner than others. Unfortunately, because we are in bankruptcy, there are severe limits on the assistance the company can offer you at this time."

People who worked at the distribution center on Flannery Road were angry when they heard they were being let go. Some of the delivery drivers had reportedly taken 50 percent pay cuts over the last couple years, but it still was not enough. They also wondered why they were asked to train new drivers as recently as last week.

If some of Hostess' brands are purchased by other food manufacturers, Rayburn does not expect his employees' jobs to be reinstated. He told CNBC recently that the entire industry is over-saturated.

Hostess created a website with information for employees, customers, and vendors. 

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